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A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Nikon Coolpix L10, the entry-level model of Nikon’s compact camera range. This week it’s the turn of Pentax’s bottom-of-the-range model, another low-cost camera using AA batteries for power.
The Pentax Optio E30 is a budget-priced 7.1 megapixel compact camera featuring a 3x zoom 6mm-18mm f/2.7-4.8 lens (equivalent to 36mm-108mm in 35mm format), a 2.4-in LCD monitor, and a fairly basic specification. It is available from online retailers for just under £95. There are a surprising number of 6-7MP entry-level cameras with AA battery power available, but most are more expensive than the Pentax. For example the Canon PowerShot A550 is around £140, the Nikon CoolPix L11 is £119, the HP Photosmart M627 is £159, the Samsung DigiMax S730 is £109 and even the Kodak EasyShare C653 is £100. Of cameras from the major brands only the Fujifilm FinePix A700, the Olympus FE-210 and the 6MP Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS60 are about the same price.
Initial impressions of the E30 are not massively encouraging. Its appearance looks quite dated by recent standards. Measuring 61.5 x 94.5 x 35.4mm it looks positively bulky next to the ultra-slim M30. However even with two alkaline batteries inserted it somehow manages to feel rather light and insubstantial, which is odd since it weighs a fairly hefty 185g.
However a closer examination reveals that despite its plastic body it is solidly put together with no creaks or groans even when squeezed. The comparatively large handgrip, the larger-than-average size of the controls, and particularly the large shutter button might make it a suitable camera for someone with limited flexibility in their hands and fingers, something which I imagine would be a serious problem with many of today’s ultra-compact cameras. Likewise the battery hatch and card slot are very easy to open, with a simple sliding hinged cover that has no latch. This does mean it can be prone to accidental opening, in which case your batteries will fall out, but if easy access was the intention then it has succeeded.